DelPo in round three, Nadal in the quarters - Murray's unlikely route to Wimbledon glory
Andy Murray appears set to make his return to grand slam action at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Having made his return from hip surgery at Queen's Club last week, Murray has been drawn against Benoit Paire in the first round at the All England Club.
Providing the two-time champion competes - a scenario he described as "most likely" on Friday - it will mark his first appearance at a slam since his troublesome hip proved his undoing in a quarter-final loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon last year.
Murray beat Paire in the fourth round in 2017 but, having tumbled down the rankings, will have to come through an imposing schedule to reach the latter stages this year.
We plot his daunting route to potential Wimbledon glory.
Round 1: Benoit Paire
The Frenchman will provide Murray with a top-50 test first up, but Paire is a player the Briton is undefeated against. Murray has won both their meetings, the most recent encounter providing his last victory at a slam.
Round 2: Jeremy Chardy/Denis Shapovalov
Teenager Shapovalov has begun to deliver on his undoubted promise, rising to 26th in the world. Still, the second round of Wimbledon would be uncharted territory for him. Chardy reached the semi-final at Queen's and progressed to the fourth round at SW19 in 2014. Murray has never faced Shapovalov but has won nine of his 10 meetings with Chardy, including at the 2013 Australian Open and 2015 French Open.
Round 3: Juan Martin del Potro
Third-round matches do not come more enticing than this potential contest. From Murray's incredible win in the 2016 Olympic final to Del Potro's triumph in a marathon Davis Cup five-setter in the same year, these two have consistently delivered engrossing battles when they square off. Murray holds a 7-3 edge in the head to head, and beat Del Potro at the 2008 U.S. Open and 2017 French Open.
It’s nice to see this serve back in action.... pic.twitter.com/6Zy0KpX4Vi— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 29, 2018
Round 4: Jack Sock/David Goffin
Were Murray to come through three rounds, including the significant test Del Potro would provide, then he would surely be a favourite against either Sock or Goffin, despite the fact both men are ranked in the world's top 20. Murray has never faced Sock, but the American has not gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon. Goffin's run to the ATP Finals last year hinted at a player ready to realise his potential, but he has not won a set against Murray in their five meetings.
Quarter-finals: Rafael Nadal
Given his lack of preparation, Murray would likely see a run to the quarter-finals as a substantial achievement. Beating world number one and French Open champion Nadal in his first slam for a year would seem beyond the realms of possibility. The two have met nine times in grand slams, with Nadal winning seven of those matches. The Spaniard has also won all three of their encounters at Wimbledon.
Semi-finals: Alexander Zverev/Novak Djokovic/Dominic Thiem
Djokovic was the man Murray defeated to end his Wimbledon wait back in 2013, but it would be an utterly remarkable turn of events were they to meet for the 37th time given their respective injury struggles. Zverev and Thiem have each established themselves in the top 10 and enjoyed impressive clay-court swings, the latter defeating Nadal in Madrid before losing to him in the final at Roland Garros, and would therefore be expected to provide extremely stern tests.
Final: Roger Federer
The defending champion and man many see as the greatest of all time has a seemingly serene path to the semi-finals, where Marin Cilic could be the man standing in his way. Federer's routine win over Cilic in last year's final suggests the Queen's champion may not be much of an obstacle. It would take a Herculean effort for Murray to even get to this point, never mind defeat the eight-time champion. He would not be short of motivation, though, having lost to Federer in the final in 2012.